Scott Lovell goes from homeless to sober, clean and Caps fan
If you were to ask 51-year-old Scott Lovell if he ever imagined that the game of hockey would change his life, he'd quickly tell you no.
However, he'd also be quick to tell you that Ted Leonsis is one of the people who saved him from a life that had been ravaged by tragedy, drug abuse and prison time.
"Ted Leonsis was my guardian angel that saved me from the street," Lovell said. "If it wasn’t for the hockey, I don't know where I would be."
After his final stint in prison in 2007 and the loss of his leg in a car accident, Lovell took up the corner of 7th and G streets, across the street from the Verizon Center as his home. The Charlotte, N.C. native called that corner home for five years.
Bored, lonely and tired, he quickly realized that Washington Capitals games would be broadcast on the large jumbotron outside the arena. The game which he had never watched before quickly turned into his escape.
"I started sleeping over here, then hockey season started," Lovell said.
Night after night, while thousands of fans rocked the red inside the arena, he learned the game of hockey from his outside bedroom. Then, one night, he met Capitals season ticket holder Mary Taneyhill, who wrote to the Capitals owner about the man at 7th and G.
"I wrote to Mr. Leonsis and told him that there is this really positive guy living on the streets, and he's a huge Caps fan," Taneyhill said.
Leonsis, ever the philanthropist, didn't just sit by and meet with Lovell - he made him a deal he couldn't refuse. In 2009, Leonsis arranged Lovell with a part-time job as a restaurant kitchen worker, a paid and furnished apartment, a prosthetic leg and Capitals season tickets for life. In return, Lovell had to vow to stay clean and sober.
Three years later, he's clean, sober, maintaining his job at a Rockville restaurant and a fixture at Capitals home games.
"I met Ted Leonsis on April 1...lots of people say that's April Fools Day, (but) that was a blessing day for me," Lovell said.
Leonsis said before he met Lovell, he had never had a relationship with a homeless man. He quickly became his biggest supporter.
"After you start talking to him, you realize by the grace of God...if anyone needed a break, it was Scott," Leonsis said.
The one thing Lovell won't do, though, is get rid of his playoff beard as the Capitals prepare to take on the New York Rangers in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I cut my hair, but i had to keep the beard for the playoffs," he said.